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Epic Level Handbook (Dungeon & Dragons d20 3.0 Fantasy Roleplaying) Hardcover – July 1, 2002

53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ANDY COLLINS writes and edits roleplaying games for the Wizards of the Coast R&D department. He lives in Washington state.

BRUCE R. CORDELL, an Origins award-winning author, has written over a dozen products, including Return to the Tomb of Horrors and The Sunless Citadel. He lives in Washington state.

THOMAS M. REID has written numerous articles for Dragon Magazine, edited numerous RPG products, and written the Greyhawk novel The Temple of Elemental Evil. He lives in Texas.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast; First Printing: July 2001 edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786926589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786926589
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.8 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi! I'm an Origins and ENnie award-winning game designer with a sizable list of professional credits. Most recently, I wrote The Strange RPG with my pal Monte Cook. My game design stretches much further back, of course, and include D&D titles such as Gates of Firestorm Peak, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, the Illithiad, and both the Psionics Handbook and Expanded Psionics Handbook. Not to mention the most recent Gamma World game, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, and D&D 5th Edition.

I'm also the author of several Forgotten Realms novels, including Darkvision, Stardeep, the Abolethic Sovereignty trilogy (Plague of Spells, City of Torment, and Key of Stars), and the Sword of the Gods books (Sword of the Gods, and Spinner of Lies).

Author, world builder, science groupie, fitness buff, and sci-fi fiend.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

129 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Hershberger on July 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A genuine gripe of Third Edition D&D was its tendency to create seriously powerful player characters who were (to use the phrase) "All powered-up with nowhere to go." Having climbed sunshine mountain, high level PCs were given little to do but build a stronghold and start writing their memoirs.
Well, put down the inkwell, Hrothgar, a 200 foot tall spider just ate half the city.
The Epic Level Handbook opens up a universe of possibilities for established heroes, and gives Dungeon Masters rules they can run with. Six chapters of pure brain candy, plus three crunchy Appendices to wash them down. Oh, this is the book your high level characters have been waiting for...
The book starts off with the character progression rules and Epic Prestige classes. The rules are straightforward, clean, and thoroughly explained. Full marks to the "Behind the Curtain" segments in this chapter - explaining the whys behind the rules is very important when your telling a 21st level barbarian why his base attack bonus will never increase again. Epic versions of the standard classes are provided (ho-hum), but new prestige classes (like the Agent Retriever) are also provided. These new additions provide not only new paths, but (more importantly) examples on how to make your own prestige classes. Custom classes can define campaign worlds as well as campaigns - and the tools provided here are the building blocks of anything you could want. I'll just mention one of the many Epic Feats: Permanent Emanation (make an emanation spell of yours permanent...ah the possibilities...).
The chapter on epic spells provides the rules for creating magic that does things that Archmages would sell their quasit for.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Brad Smith on July 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Now we finally know what's on the other side of the 20th-level wall.
This sourcebook, a mammoth tome if there ever was one, is all about D&D characters after 20th level. It includes character information, new magic, new items, advice on running epic-level games, new monsters, and a new campaign setting designed for epic-level play.
The heart of the book is the character section, detailing all sorts of options for people to try after 20th level. They've looked at classes, core *and* prestige (from DMG), and tried to find patterns to extrapolate from. Those that don't have easily extrapolable abilities get more feats than those that do. It does seem that they try to ignore some things...rogues, for example, get no more special abilities, though that's clearly a pattern starting at 10th level. They also include suggestions on how to advance other prestige classes not in the DMG.
Next, we have epic skills and feats. Well, the epic skill section is a list of new possible checks to make, such as the Balance DC-120 check to walk on a cloud. The epic feats are a mixed bag; some are really cool, others aren't. They do tend to assume that people play in a certain pattern...for example, druids are assumed to focus on shapeshifting, and clerics to focus on positive/negative energy channeling. It's written conservatively, with suggestions that if you want to change something, do so.
Next, we have epic spells and magic items. Epic spells require research and experience to create, and a Spellcraft roll to cast, but are often worth Nailed to the Sky, which puts the target in orbit, or Contingent Resurrection, which resurrects the target if s/he dies. Epic magic items are also interesting; most of the wondrous items and weapons are extrapolations from previous items (i.e.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Black on August 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If anything, the Epic Level Handbook is UNDERPOWERED compared to what was expected. The progression over 20th level is rather sedate.
Some of the skills pointed out as being ridiculous actually can be found used in - wouldn't you know it? - epics like that of Cu Chulainn or the Mabinogion or the Kalevala. Such tales from the real world are FILLED with heroes doing things like swimming up waterfalls and any number of other endeavors normally impossible for individuals, like diverting rivers. The book is about EPIC level play, after all. It's meant to evoke the kinds of feats (not in the D&D sense) we find in legend.
While the book does approach this level of play, it is remarkably conservative in what is presented. Sure, the epic spells are extremely powerful - but look at the prerequisites and cost! No character is going to be wielding such magic daily, if ever - unless the campaign was already way out of balance before the ELH was published.
The spells are good examples of what to do with the new "spell seeds" concept. The skills and feats are logical, and often kind of mundane, extensions of the material in the Player's Handbook. The new epic monsters are amazingly strange, unique, and powerful. Anyone worried about Monty Haulism cropping up with the ELH need only trot out some of these new critters into a campaign - then you'll see why some of the epic level material is needed. Even then, epic-level characters will be hard-pressed to even survive against many of these monsters.
I wasn't too keen on the section about the "epic city." I just wasn't convinced that such a city could exist (I think I saw 29th level, nameless NPC city guards). Plus, I just wasn't too inspired by it.
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